tv Lectures in History CSPAN September 2, 2016 5:04pm-6:22pm EDT
there is a building in the top left corner. maybe they are all going there. but this -- that's a lot of parking. and think about parking for a second. it's land, right? and think about the thing that is most distinctly valuable in a city. it's land. what's scarce in a city. city by definition is a place of density, right? if density is what we're talking about, then land is scarce. so why don't we put a car on every 100 square feet of land in a city and then this is what you'll get. i wonder if this isn't like trying to fasten a 200-page report with a stapler and a hammer. this is houston as well. this is how the cars got to the parking lots. to get to the parking lots they went on this interstate highway. this is indianapolis. it may not immediately jump at you, but if you look carefully, you'll see that we've got a lot of surface parking here. maybe half of this picture is surface parking. surface parking lots. strange thing to do with a city. there we have tyson's corner. i think you probably are acquainted with this.
this is potomac mills. here we have atlanta. not only do we see cars parked off the street everywhere, we also see major interstate highways accommodating cars at extraordinary expense. so this is like taking your swing line stapler and 200-page report and getting a sledgehammer to force that staple through. at least that's one way of possibly looking at this, right? our assigned reading for today says to the contrary, this is something we accommodate. the automobile is something we accommodate because it is so valuable to our economy, to our society, to the freedom of its residents. it's worth it. he's not saying, you know, it's not costly in some senses. it is costly. but he's saying, but it's worth it.
for example, look at the economic benefit. all right. more jobs. more income for people. and i, of course, being a good skeptical reader, looked for the data myself. if you look, you'll see cars and trucks in the u.s. increasing in numbers from 1960 on the left to 2010 on the right. and you can loosely correlate that to gdp. the curves are not the same but they're both going up. so maybe u.s. gdp growth from 1960 to 2010 is attributable in large part to the growth of cars and trucks, at least that's possible. on the other hand, if you are a skeptical reader, you should see if it correlates with other things. for example, the growth of the number of mcdonald's. if anything, the correlation is
slightly better. and so maybe we should say that u.s. gdp growth from 1960 to 2010 was caused by the growth of mcdonald's. or maybe we could try doing the causal analysis the other way around, and maybe the growth of u.s. gdp explains the growth in the number of cars and trucks. i'll let you decide which is more plausible, all right? so that's one way of looking at it. also, our author for today also contends that the car has social value that's not economically obvious. and if it's truly socially as valuable as the author contends, maybe it's worth the cost. for example, according to o'toole, the automobile was an indispensable means of women's liberation and a tool of the civil rights movement. i think it's helpful to check, check your sources. if we go back and look, i think feminists would agree that these three women were monumentally important, at least the first two were. on the left, jane jacobs, a -- one of the leading lights in city planning.
you cannot get through your first year of city planning school without reading jane jacobs' "life and death of great american cities." we also have here maybe somebody recognizes betty freedan, author of "the feminine mystique," the single most important book, most people would say, of second wave feminism published in 1963. nobody is going to recognize helen levitt of washington, d.c., the author of "superhighway, superhoax" 1970. but what these women have in common is that all of them were, depending on which one you mean, at least skeptical or outright hostile to the suburbanization trend that the automobiles connected with. jane jacobs was a defender of urban density and said cities are dense places. we don't need to suburbanize everything. what makes cities thrive is
pedestrians. what makes cities thrive is density. if we try to make a suburb out of the city, we ruin all of that. and that's what made "death and life of great american cities" the single most significant work in american city planning, most city planners would agree that's true. feminine mystique, betty freedan says -- she's writing in 1963. the housewife isolated in the suburbs while her husband goes to work is in -- and this was a controversial analogy -- she called it a comfortable concentration camp. right? she felt unfree in the suburbs. of course, one response is, well, she should get a car. now we're talking about not only a world where every adult has a car instead of every home but also a world that was unrealistic in 1963 when she wrote the book. o'toole says that the car gave us better social equity, but how could he argue this when it was not economically possible for most couples to have two cars,
all right? in an age when men were expected to be the breadwinner, he takes the car and she's left alone. betty freedan was not a fan of the car as a tool of women's liberation. helen leavitt, although i doubt anybody has ever heard of her, if you are from nova or d.c., you should. you all know about i-95, i'm sure. what you probably don't know is that if you look at the blueprints for i-95, from the late '50s into the early '60s when they were designing this at the bureau of public roads and the department of commerce, i-95 was not supposed to go around washington on the beltway. it was supposed to go right through it uninterrupted right through washington, d.c. wisconsin avenue and a block on either side of wisconsin avenue, everything was going to be leveled and they were going to
put in eight lanes of interstate highway right through the middle of d.c. bridge right over the potomac on it. helen leavitt fought this tooth and nail. she investigated it. decided it was, as she calls it a superhoax. wrote this book. it was a significant seller in its day. that's 1970. what's more significant is, i'm sure you've all heard of the interstate highway system. something else you may not know about it is this. on the books it was supposed to be 42,500 miles. it never got there because of the violent -- i shouldn't use the word violent. the vehement opposition to it in america's cities. some were built. the opposition was intense. and so intense and spread that finally they had to give up trying to build the urban segments of the u.s. interstate
highway system. and in that movement, many -- i don't have the numbers, but probably most of the active leaders were women. women spearheaded the movement against the freeways in the cities. and these pictures, while they don't prove it, give you a taste for that connection that women saw urban interstates as dangerous. you see this also in -- remember jane jacobs, author of "death and life of great american cities," the planners of her day, which included the highway engineers, she saw as people who were ravaging the cities. helen leavitt put it this way. now i don't think we have seen a case for women having welcomed the automobile as women's liberation. i'm not saying that none did. surely some did. but it was a mixed story, at best. and the same could be said about the role of the automobile in the american city from the point of view of african-americans. here we see a neighborhood of
miami called overtown. and overtown was nicknamed the harlem of the south because all the businesses were black owned. the residences were all black. it was a thriving black community. i am using the past tense in showing you an old picture because this is overtown in the mid'60s. all right? there is nothing left. i mean, acres in every direction has been totally destroyed to make room for the southern end of interstate 95. this does not, to me, make a case for the interstate highway or cars in general having been a tool of civil rights. it is definitely true that without the car, they could not have successfully organized the
montgomery bus boycott of 1955. but clearly the story is more complicated than that. and overtown is a case in point but you could look at almost any american city and reach the same conclusion. this is a sign that was carried around in the protests against these projects in american cities in the '60s. everybody has heard of the civil rights movement. not many people know about this aspect of it. the anti-urban highway aspect of it. here's detroit. on the left here, we see a neighborhood called paradise valley. like overtown, virtually 100% black. 100% black-owned businesses. and yet, when this picture was taken in 1964, it was already mostly gone.
this was a city block left to right, up and down. it's making room for i-75, the chrysler freeway in detroit. totally destroyed paradise valley. the little bit of it that was left was unsustainable and quickly decayed. now let me share an observation i've made with you that might be interesting. you know, as an historian, i am sort of interested in what people know a lot about and what people haven't heard of. i've noticed a lot of people have heard about the riots of the 1960s. there was a riot in detroit in 1967 that was the worst riot in the 20th century until the 1994 los angeles riots. 40 to 50 people were killed. it lasted several days. what people don't seem to know is that it happened almost immediately after this happened. this is the chrysler freeway in detroit under construction. everything you see used to be part of paradise valley. and here we see the riots that broke out months later in the summer of 1967. i haven't proved a connection, but i certainly do think that when you destroy a city and its neighborhood, you may encounter -- don't be surprised if you
encounter some trouble after that. so i'm not at all persuaded that we can see the automobile as the key to civil rights the way our author for today portrays it. there's another group that o'toole doesn't mention, but i believe belongs in any discussion about the social aspects of this. and here's where i'm going to bring in an englishman. this guy's name is william bird. and he's a medical doctor in britain. and he was interested in declining independent mobility among children in britain. he has, as a medical doctor, observed that physical and mental health in children correlates strongly with their activity level and especially with their mobility. can they go on their own outside to play and can they go very far. now in this report, he has a great deal of data to show declining mobility in children
in britain which correlates, i think, to declining mobility of children in america. but for an audience like you all, i think the most compelling bit of evidence, even though it's not the most conclusive is this simple little study of one family, four generations. so these are four generations. edwards' mother is vicki. vicki's mother is jack. jack's father is -- vicki's father is jack. jack's father is george. all right. and those years are the years when those people were 8 years old. and one of the many data points that william bird put together was when he asked them, and they are all alive so we he could ask them to plot on a map their home and the farthest place they could go to unescorted as an unaccompanied 8-year-old. he found that george could go six miles and did. he liked to go. six miles is a long walk. six miles each way on foot george would walk. jack was only going a mile. 1/6 of that. that was twice as much as vicki who went half a mile in 1979.
to me, the clincher is 2007, edward is going 300 yards. maximum unescorted as an 8-year-old. 300 yards. that's a major decline as you can see in this bar chart. now this is one family. it's a sample size of one or four depending on how you look at it. i'm not making any pretenses that this is conclusive data. i am claiming, however, that this is not at all atypical of a trend that you find both in britain and in the united states over time. there are reasons for this. you guys have lived this yourselves. i have as well. and i want to ask you all, why? why this decline? there's multiple reasons. what's one of them? herbert, can you think of one? >> i guess you could say like the development of neighborhoods, more densely --
houses are like more densely situated now. >> houses are more densely situated now, so why would that -- so it's not as far to walk because -- >> yeah. >> okay. that sounds plausible. how about another possibility here? wade. >> just safety. >> explain. >> the chances of edward being hit by a car is far greater than george. >> very true. now i want to point out this is britain. even in 1926, george would have been in danger of being hit by a car in america, but in britain, cars were rare in '26. so his danger of being hit by a car was not high.
but you can see that that changed. jack, his parents are concerned. and rightly so, about him getting hit by a car. i want to point out, by the way, as a parent, i'm not advocating anybody let their 8-year-old walk six miles away from home unescorted. i think that's nuts. so this is not an attempt to defend that, but it is a claim that perhaps this has gone a little too far because 300 yards, we've practically disabled our own children when they can't go more than 300 yards. so there's safety, including traffic safety. also fear of strangers or abductions or attacks of various kinds. there's more, and it has to do with the geography. herbert mentioned a geographic point. let me offer a geographic point. this is street plan -- or an aerial view of a typical american subdivision of the late 20th, early 21st century. and i think you can see that if, for example, you lived on the cul-de-sac on the far right and you were 8 years old and you wanted to walk to a friend's house on the next street over,
while you might be able to get there directly by trespassing, if you weren't going to trespass, you'd have a very long way to walk. if you had an old-fashioned street grid, you'd have a much shorter walk. and, therefore, although the point is, why people walked longer distances, yes, it's a longer distance here, but turns out you are less likely to walk at all if you have to walk that far to get to a close by house, right? now this is a street plan that actually makes a lot of sense from a driver's point of view because the intersections are much rarer than they are in a grid. and you know as a driver that intersections are where all the delays happen. so if you have fewer intersections, fewer delays. better for a driver. if you are walking, a little different. don't want to say it's all one-sided. cul-de-sacs are nice if your 8-year-old friend lives on the other side of the cul-de-sac. that's great. but if your 8-year-old friend
lives on another cul-de-sac, you sr. kind of in trouble. i think this diagram might convey it a little more clearly. this is a child who, if they walked to school, would have to take a very round-about way or trespass. let's face it. a lot of kids trespass. i certainly did as a kid myself. but with a grid, maybe you wouldn't have to to walk to work. incidentally, this graphic reminded me of a personal experience myself. i spent four years of my childhood in montgomery county, maryland, where there were a lot of subdivisions of this kind. and i belong to one of these facebook groups that you'll all join when you are getting nostalgic for the old days, too. and so this one is about montgomery county in the old days. and some kids were remembering something they called the black pass. now what's going on here is that they are showing in the red line here paths that did not exist on
any map that nobody had made except for the kids themselves. and what they did was overcome the restrictions of the cul-de-sac plans by forging their own illegal, what we call, black paths. and you have got certain amount of status points for taking these things because they were a little creepy and scary and so on. and so this person who posted this is reminiscing about the black path in their lifeline to the rest of the world. now once the kid gets to a street, they might have this to face. or an 8-year-old who made it out of the residential subdivision, now he gets here. i hope no parent ever lets their 8-year-old get to this point unescorted or to this one because if you learn anything from sds-4500 you take the point of view of different social groups. from the point of view of a driver, this street in ashville, north carolina, on the left is wonderful. from the point of view of a pedestrian, especially a young
one or perhaps a very old or frail one, this is absolutely an impenetrable barrier to mobility. so i ask you, when you hear about mobility, ask, mobility for whom? because on the left, or in both of these, we see high mobility for drivers. we see something close to zero mobility for any child or disabled person or perhaps old person who wants to cross this street. so not only should we talk about the women's movement and civil rights, i think we should talk about children, too, when we talk about mobility. i want to recognize another thesis. it's not one that o'toole explicitly references. i think he'd be sympathetic to it. but it's one that we have to reckon with because it is probably the most common
explanation for why america accommodates cars even in dense cities at almost any expense. i'm not persuaded by it, but we need to recognize this thesis. so at the top here we see a google search bar. this is a real google search bar that i just did a screen shot of. and at america's l.o. -- we see auto complete kicking in. i'm guessing that i mean america's lost treasures. however, when i add a "v," i knew before the first i tried it what would pop up. and maybe you've heard of this, too. and the reason i'm using this google example is that auto complete is pretty good at telling us about what is popular out there. and this is a popular
explanation. so what do you think is going to happen if we add a "v"? who feels they know the answer? adam? >> i've heard the phrase. america's love affair with the automobile. >> you got it. america's love affair with the automobile. sometime somebody needs to explain to me america's lover boys. i don't know what that is. america's love affair with the automobile is probably the single most common thesis to explain the extraordinary extent to which the united states has accommodated automobiles wherever they go, including dense cities. it's a thesis with a history and it's a very significant history and i hope time will permit me to touch on what that history is. first i need to go a slightly different direction. if we look around in the media, we see this thesis everywhere. notice that in all of these headlines, we see love affair. love affair. why is this so ubiquitous? it's incredible. this thesis is just about everywhere. it has a history which, as you all know, google is a good step toward uncovering. i checked this little bump here is just noise. and as we move to the right you
see that it has a fairly steep takeoff beginning circa '59, '60 and then hits a high in the '70s. it appears to plateau there, but if we add america's love affair with the car. if you added the red bar to the blue bar, the growth actually continues right up to the present, although not as steep as it did in the '60s. this thesis is everywhere. and it's used by both the critics and the defenders of the automobile. now america's love affair with the automobile is not a very scholarly sounding explanation. but as social scientists, i think you can see what kind of explanation it would be in a more scholarly costume, right? which social science is implicated when you are talking about america's love affair with the automobile? what's the social science that's being deployed here in an explanatory way? political science?
there's something sociological about it because we're talking about american society. sociologists, of course, are interested in the universals about society. when you're talking about particular societies, we're now talking about -- we're not talking about individuals or individual psychology or even really social psychology. we're talking about a culture -- it's anthropology here, folks. now when you hear the phrase america's love affair or see those headlines, anthropology is not being deployed explicitly, but it's a cultural explanation and as a cultural explanation, it's an anthropological explanation. it probably leaves something to be wanted because any sociologist would tell you that most people would like to have a status symbol of practical value all over the world. right? illustration. some of you may recognize this
as rush hour in beijing in the '70s. this is rush hour in beijing in the '70s. this means that in the '70s you might plausibly be able to say that cars are an american thing, right? and amazing that as late as 1960, 70% of all the cars in the world -- wrap your mind around this -- 70% of all the cars in the world were in the united states. but this is totally different. here's shanghai rush hour now. i think we could say there's a chinese love affair with the car, too. and if we kept going around the world, eventually we'd conclude that everybody loves the car once they can afford one. so it's not really a distinctly american thing. i think a sociologist would have more to say about this than an anthropologist would. there's another explanation for
the car. this report typed up in 1974 by bradford snell offered another explanation for particularly the american city accommodating cars. it's not an explanation that's widely held in scholarly circles anymore, but it's widely known. bradford snell contended that general motors, ford and chrysler really subverted urban transportation. first of all, they agreed to cooperate with each other. that is not to compete the way you are supposed to in a free market. then once they did that, together with other automotive interest groups, they combined together to subvert competitors to automobiles. specifically, general motors, firestone tire and rubber and standard oil founded a holding company called national city lines. and they really did this. and national city lines really bought up the electric street railways in several cities in america.
and once it owned them, it then scrapped them and had them replaced with general motors buses on which we're riding on firestone tires and burning standard oil fuel. and all of this is true. and, in fact, there was an antitrust lawsuit filed against the conspirators here and they were found guilty of one count of conspiracy against competition. they were fined. but where this falls short as an explanation is that by the time national city lines bought up electric street railways it got them on the cheap because they were already mostly bankrupt or in trouble. losing money in the red. and so the question has to be, how did they end up in such bad shape before these groups got together rather than explaining it all as bradford snell does with this case? so this is -- if you are thinking about what this would be as a research paper, this would be a couple of sentences in the literature view which is
all we need to dispense with that particular argument, okay? there's another explanation for the automotive city. i think it's one that o'toole comes pretty close to explicitly endo endorsing, and that is the automobile predominates in america pretty much everywhere except manhattan because of the free market. it's a free market choice. it's the same reason -- take for example vhs beat beta, right, in tapes -- in videotapes. and a lot of people say, well, actually, beta was better,
right? and, yet, you wouldn't then say, they should have like made vhs illegal so that beta could win because it's better. that's not how we do things in this country. we're supposed to let the market decide. and they say, by the same token you may not like cars everywhere. you may not think they are a great fit with cities. but the market in its wisdom has spoken. people drive, and in driving they express a market preference for driving over other modes of transportation. deal with it. so that's sort of the argument. and essential to this argument is the claim that people who drive pay for the costs of their driving through -- you know how they pay for the cost of their driving theoretically? sorry? charlie? >> they pay it ultimately through taxes because there's gas taxes and registration.
>> gas taxes and registration fees and these costs. a lot of them, in many cases most of them, end up being spent on roads, and, therefore, there's a connection. when you drive, you have to buy fuel. when you buy fuel, you pay gas tax. when you pay gas tax you are making a market decision, the same as when you buy a certain brand of pen in the store. you are making a free decision in a marketplace. now it's actually very controversial the extent to which drivers pay for the costs of the infrastructure that they use. i chose these two reports as representing opposite poles of the extreme. on the left we have a report by ruben who says, yeah, the answer is mostly yes. you know, although in 28 states you pay somewhat less than the costs you impose. in 23 states you pay essentially the costs you impose, even a little more in some cases. and nationally, that is the federal highway expenditures for the interstate highways you pay for them as well. so that's the strongest case i could find for saying you pay for it. even that case doesn't come close to saying you pay the full cost as a driver. this on the right from the
public interest research group contends that you don't come anywhere close to paying the costs of the roads. and i'm going to say actually, we don't even have to worry about this debate because there's plenty more reasons for not accepting the claim that there's a free market for the mode of transportation you choose. i don't think we're anywhere close to having a free market for the mode of transportation you choose. the assumption that there is a free market for the mode of transportation you use is based on an assumption. and i think i'm being fair when i articulate the assumption this way. i think this is the assumption fairly articulated. who can see the flaw? yes? >> i think maybe that may be true in some cases, but when you take a look at people who live out in the middle of nowhere, people who are surrounded by
woods and have to get somewhere, often times you drive because you have no choice. >> so kwame says, a lot of the time if you drive, it's not because you chose that out of a sort of display cabinet of alternatives, like you would in a store, it's because there was no choice. you had to just do it. i can give you anecdotal support for kwame's answer, which is that, given the choice, i would drive a lot less. and i want to be fair, i do have a choice. i could ride my bike to work. i don't like being passed by cars going 65 miles an hour passing me a foot or two away from me. it scares the -- it scares me. all right? it scares me a lot, enough to make me not want to do it. if i had an ample place to ride that was separated, it would be a different picture. i admit it.
i'm a coward. but maybe there are other cowards, too, and maybe there are enough cowards that that makes a difference. you know, i've been honked at for riding on the very edge of the road. and it's very unnerving to me. so i just do not like that. and, therefore, i drive. but when i drive, i pay gas taxes for driving. and when those gas taxes are used to claim, well, this shows your preference in the free market for driving. and, therefore, your gas taxes should go just to more roads. i object. i say, it wasn't a free market. somebody was threatening to kill me from behind. that's not free. okay? so i disagree with this. i'm not alone. economists like michelle white agree. they say that when somebody drives, they may actually hate driving. they are doing it because of a number of other factors that constrain their choices. all right?
this illustration i think further undermines the claim we have a free market for transportation. some of you might recognize the springfield interchange on i-95 in nova. below that we have just an average rural virginia two-lane, two-direction road. now your cost for accessing these is interesting to consider when you compare it against the cost of supplying this infrastructure. i don't have to persuade you that the cost of supplying this springfield interchange is probably several orders of magnitude or few orders of magnitude greater than the cost of providing the two-lane road. here's your cost of access of the two-lane road. per gallon fuel used on it, you'll pay 35.7 cents. about half of virginia gas tax and about half for federal sales -- i'm sorry gas tax. here's your cost for using the
springfield interchange. all right. the same. now don't get me wrong. i'm not saying that this means that in effect that we can compare it that easily. for example, you'll see there are many more lanes of traffic on i-95. that means more people who can pay more money, right? sure it does. in the end, though, i think everybody has to admit that we don't really have any idea. we don't have any clear connection between what people are paying and what they are getting the way you do when you go to a store.
so much for the free market. but that's not all. every one of the cars that uses every one of the lanes on i-95 here is going to have to find a place to park. now, if they park in their own driveway at home when they get home or they live in an apartment and they park in a designated garage or lot for the apartment complex, you are probably directly paying for your parking. but if you get to work and you park for free or if you get to a store and you park for free, that's not to say the space you are parking in was free. it's land. it's not free, okay?
show me free land. i want it, all right? it means that somebody paid for it. it's just not the person who parked on it. what does an economist call it when somebody else pays for the cost incurred by someone? you are -- if you are the beneficiary, you are the beneficiary of a -- >> free ride. >> a free ride, and a specific kind of free ride called a subsidy. there's a subsidy for parking. and if you subsidize parking, you subsidize driving. why? you guys know about systems. there's no such thing as driving if you can't park. i want you to think about it for a minute. try to imagine driving but never parking. it sounds to me like a nightmare or some sort of dystopian
hellish fantasy world. but there's no such thing as driving without parking. if there's no such thing as driving without parking, then if you subsidize parking, you subsidize driving. if you subsidize driving, then we don't have a free market for driving anymore. follow me? i want to try an analogy on you. it depends on you having some basic acquaintance with these two ways of dealing with sewage from homes. on the right, a septic tank plus a drain field. this will be privately owned by the homeowner. the homeowner pays for it. the homeowner maintains it. it's on the homeowner's property. and it takes care of those household wastes. all right. sewage and so on. gray water and brown water. on the left a shared sewer system. probably owned by a local government, a county or municipal authority. and we have a quite different system. the homeowner does not own anything and the homeowner really has nothing to worry about once it crosses the line of their property. it's not their problem anymore. okay? now maybe you all remember the first question i asked you, what's better. i want to ask you the same question here. what is better? a septic tank plus a drain field, privately owned, or a shared, probably publicly owned sewer system? >> i'd say the sewer system is better because it's less maintenance for the homeowner. >> and it's nathan, right? >> yes. >> the sewer system is better because it's less trouble for the homeowner. of course, the sewer system is better if you can get it. right? if you can get it. if you are going to get a sewer system at all in a rural area, it's actually not going to be better because you'll have to pay huge amounts of money in the form of taxes to have that kind of sewer system because it would be prohibitively expensive to equip you with it, right? so we're back to, i think it was asha's answer who said binder
clips, staplers, paper clips. depends on what you're using it for, right? this depends on the situation, too. i want to you imagine supposing if due to a value or an ideological commitment, you said, this is america, we believe in private property and individualism. everybody should have their own septic tank and drain field no matter what it takes. even if a big city. even in manhattan you should have privately owned septic tanks and drain fields. each home, each individual residence having their own field and not mixing our wastes together, right? what if you said that, right? could you make such a -- how would you make such a septic tank system work? i put it to you that it can theoretically be done. in fact, there has even been a proposal for a way to do it, but i get ahead of myself. how would you do it? how would you make a septic tank work in a dense city?
you guys are engineers. i know you can think of a solution. it's not real hard. it's going to start to get awkward pretty soon. what dwou do you say? septic tank and drain field even in manhattan. how your going to do it. wade? >> find a way to make the system smaller or just continue to dig deeper? >> you could try to like dig a mine shaft going below the crust of the earth and dump it all in there? yeah. i think there might be a more feasible alternative. charles? >> put it on the roof. >> you can put it on the roof. i think one roof will not be enough area.
so what do you do? you don't give up, do you? james? >> every other floor just have a residence and have -- >> now it would be hard to live between two drain fields but here's a real proposal. that is a septic tower. each one of those levels is a drain field. interspersed is air which you would need to have for the septic system to work. you could put this in a city next to an apartment house, and every resident of the apartment house could have their own drain field in this massive tower. the tower would probably have to be bigger than the apartment house. you'd probably need pumps to get it up there. you definitely need pumps to get it up there. but you could do it theoretically. now i want to point out that while this is an actual patent, a real patent for a real septic
tower, no kidding, it did not succeed. if you look this patent up, you'll see why. they stopped paying their fees. it goes from bottom to top. and you can see it's now expired. anybody who wants to can file a new patent for a new septic tower. that includes anybody in this room. and you may say, why would i ever do that? and i put it to you that this country has shown how you can make that work. what would it take to make septic towers or, alternatively, massive open septic fields in cities that could be like city parks that nobody would go to? how could you make that happen? charles? >> if you increased the cost of the sewer system to the point where this became a cheaper alternative. >> you could increase the cost of the sewer system, right? now incidentally, this is an analogy which means we're not
actually -- i'm not interested in sewer systems here. what's, in urban transportation, the equivalent of the shared public sewer system? someone. yes? >> the subway. >> yeah, some kind of shared public transport system, the metro, subway, buses, street cars, light rail, you name it. whatever it is, the shared system that is spatially efficient where space is scarce. if that's an not an alternative, you force people into cars and then you have to find places to put all the cars. you have parking garages in cities. block after block of parking garages like you saw at the beginning here. you can make this happen. you don't have to hobble transit. you can also subsidize the parking garages or the septic tank towers and you can even require them by law. do you guys know that if you
open a business commercial enterprise, industry, retail store in a town or a city in america you almost certainly will have to provide a minimum number of off street parking spaces. did you know that? zoning codes are almost universal. there are sepexceptions, but alt universal. if you open a retail business or an industry you have to provide a certain number of parking spaces for each square foot of floor space in your business. they are not saying, oh, e we think you the owner of the business should judge. you don't want people to have no place to park. we'll let you decide how many parking spaces you want. no, they are not doing that. they say, we tell you how many you have to provide. here's what happens. these parking spaces are
mandated by local zoning ordinances that require you to provide x number of spaces per unit floor space of a retail business. these became common in the middle of the 20th century. i'm not saying these stores don't want the parking spaces. the fact that they are all full suggest they have the number right. but very often these spaces are not full. look at how much space the ratio on the right. the church hall in west sacramento, california, supplies 16 times more area in parking than it supplies floor space. on the bottom, we have retail businesses that supply 1 to 2 times more parking space area than floor space area. did you hear me? you have to supply more parking space area than floor space area. that's a little weird, don't you think? maybe as weird as saying if you open up an apartment house you have to provide an equal amount
of area for urban septic towers or septic fields rather than say why don't we have a shared system in urban areas and a private system in rural areas. d a provided service in rural areas. economists have fits over any of these kinds of rules. i don't think it will surprise you to hear that. economists tend to think that the market handles most things reasonably well, left to itself. not everything. but parking spaces could be solved by the marketplace. you would be a fool to open a business and offer no parking at all. so why not let the businesses decide the optimum amount. these authors cutter and franco, come to this conclusion about them. in effect, they are a subsidy for driving. perhaps a more vivid position is taken by donald shupe of ucla who in "high cost of free parking" has made this
contention. why are there fertility drugs for cars, because they make it artificially cheap to drive. if you don't believe me, think about what a difference it makes when you go into a city like richmond or washington if you're pretty confident you'll be able to find a parking place. if you have that confidence you will drive. if you don't you will take the metro in or something like that. all right? this is what minimum parking spaces or parking lot allocations look like in practice. notice the parking lot here is i don't know, two or three times bigger than the floor area of the retail business there. this is short pump, some of you know this west of richmond. all right? now, if parking is subsidized and therefore driving is subsidized, that doesn't answer the contention that transit is subsidized. for example, o'toole authorized that it is subsidized moore. but to say -- i want you to
think about the line of reasoning here. so pay close attention to this. the claim is that if fares from passengers don't cover the expense of the transit service, therefore the transit service is subsidized. in other words, the people benefitting from the service are the people riding it. if they're paying less than the cost of providing it, they are getting a subsidy. but i would like to suggest to you that at least plausibly, the riders of a transit system, especially in a dense city are not the only ones benefitting. in fact, everyone who drives is benefitting from transit ridership. do you see how that would work? nathan? >> i mean people taking mass transit are not clogging up the roads. >> if you're ride ath bus or the streetcar or whatever it is,
you're not on the road. and therefore, the road is a little less congested. that's what makes this cartoon make sense. these drivers are wishing other people would be on the bus. i don't think it is a stretch to say that these drivers would be happy to have 5%, 10%, 20% of their gas tax go to transit. this is not going to be true everywhere, but it is going to be true where there is a lot of traffic in dense cities. so i don't think you can say that just because transit costs more than the riders pay in fares that it is subsidized because the benefit is extending to a lot of other people, as well. you see what i mean? all right. so now, here is a little bit of elementary economics. i think this will be easy for all of you. what happens when the value or product of a service is under-valued? in other words, i -- i should actually put it a little differently like this. what happens when the cost that we pay is less than the value that we get?
it's a predictable economic reaction. adam? >> i mean, the theory with supply and demand, conception, increases, therefore the seller increases the price and it evens out. >> right, you all know this. so if a store keeper didn't charge enough for candy bars they would run out of candy bars and so they would start to charge more for candy bars as a result, right? if they didn't charge enough also it would cost them more when they sold a candy bar than they would make back in the money and they would be out of business shortly if we did that. well, you can see this kind of thing happening in traffic. when you have congested traffic, an economist is likely to say this is simply that the users of the road are not paying the real value of the space provided, hence there is a shortage of space. a shortage of road capacity is just another way of saying congestion. and i think you all know that congestion is a very serious problem in america.
particularly in the d.c. area, right? so here we see people who are in effect saying this road is so cheap i don't mind going a mile an hour on it. all right. now, there is a way you can make road capacity into something resembling a market. i'm not saying it is a real market by any stretch of the imagination, but it's a lot closer. on the top we see singapore's electronic road pricing scheme. you go and are charged for the road capacity, just like the shopkeeper is going to charge you more if they can't keep the thing stocked. if it's not congested, you charge less. usually these systems make it free like during the middle of the night, for example. on the bottom you see london. singapore did this in 1975. it was not electronic then, but it was feasible through quite a lot of human labor.
now with electronics, it's not so laborious. hence, we have london, 2003, in fact there is a lot of cities who have done this now. this is a mostly complete list. although we have some things resembling congestion charging in the united states, you know, like hot lanes, for example, we don't have a full-blown congestion charging scheme where entering account dense part of a city, a congested area of a city no matter where you come from, you're going to pay something. this was proposed for new york city because it would be very easy toe control access to manhattan, it's just bridges and tunnels, right? and in fact, the people of new york city approved this, which tells you something important about people recognizing the value of cars but also seeing the limits of them. but the new york general assembly vetoed the idea, said no we're not going to have this. san francisco is considering it
right now. but there is no congestion charging of a real congestion charging type anywhere in american cities. but what it does is, it solves congestion by making people pay for what they're getting. and that is why these cars are really moving around freely. instead of having a market, we have a central authority called the american association of state highway and transportation officials for the state level or the federal highway administration for the federal level. and mostly this is state level stuff. the vast majority of the roads are state level affairs. and they centrally plan what we get and how we get it. in this sense i would say it is not a stretch to say that the -- that aashto is analagous to a soviet national economic planning bureau. soviet planned its economy. they figured out what to charge
for things. they tried to charge less for things they thought people wanted like bread, which was therefore always in short supply, and was also undervalued. i can remember seeing tv items about children in the soviet union who couldn't find a football in the store because there were shortages, using in /* russian round bread loaves instead. it didn't matter because if they were out of them, you could always get another one. aashto has another solution, it is essentially free to get on the road. you pay a tribal amount in gas tax to get on the road. the solution is not to charge you to get on the road. the solution is to have a bunch of experts rank roads using the aashto green book. the green book is sort of a transportation engineer's analog to psychiatrist's dsm. remember the dsm from 4500.
well, the green book has all the answers, the experts' answers for what to do. one thing is to guarantee a level of service. what is a level of service? well, here it is. level of service a, no delays. level of service f, you have no idea when you're going to get to your destination because the delays are so bad, right? so if you have level of service c or d, then you have to increase road capacity because you can't increase the charge. you know, with very few exceptions like toll roads for example, you cannot increase the charge. so instead you increase the supply, all right? i want to try another quick little analogy on you. supposing target decided -- lost everybody's credit card numbers, let's improve public relations a little bit, let's simplify checkout. we're going to charge customers
by the pound for our merchandise. not have this like different prices for different things stuff. right? so think about where you would go when you got target on the first day of charge by the pound. where would you go? i would like to bring in -- michael, where would you go? charge by the pound day? >> probably to the movie and video game section. >> movies and video games, high value for relatively low wage, one little, you know, program or whatever, console, and asha? >> jewelry. >> jewelry, yes. sharp. i wasn't thinking of that, but that is probably the best place to go. electronics is good. a student in the previous lecture suggested pillows. i didn't get that at first but you get very lightweight so you get a lot of them. i think that would get impractical when you were loading up your car. but yeah, jewelry, electronics,
the high value stuff, right? now, think about if target then handled the shortage by saying keep the trucks coming, the supply trucks coming. we have to keep the merchandise coming in because people are buying this up faster than we can get, right? you wouldn't really solve the problem. you would just have people going after more and more. >> i just wanted to note the micro sd card is worth more than its weight in gold by a significant multiplier. >> wow, and i don't even know what a micro sd card is, this is a computer card? >> an sd card like you put in a camera or what have you. >> okay, now you all know the place to go when target announces we charge by the pound, go for the micro sd cards. well, you see this is what we're doing here. instead of say, charging the right price when we get to level of service c, d, e, or f, federal highway administration and aashto say build more
capacity. that's how we get those gargantuan highway projects and that is also how come they are never really solving the problem because they continue to undercharge. it is not that hard, is it? right, so i would like to consider, though, if we're talking about service, we're talking about people. we're talking about giving people something they want. but we're not talking about people really in general. we're talking about certain people who benefit from this. and because most of us fall into the category some of the time it may seem a little abstract getting annoyed by this. but if you think like an economist, maybe you can recognize the problem here. consider this interchange or this intersection where they're doubling the width of both the north/south and the east/west roads here to get this up from a
level of c or d up to a level of service a. now, they're going to be back at the same problem again. in another 20 years they will have to double it again and maybe put in a great separated interchange. but for now they will get the level of service a out of this. but it is level of service for drivers. and if you think they're the only people concerned, recognize again that a lot of people who are driving would actually rather be doing something else. i was one of those, you might remember that. and maybe we would be if we could actually cross this street. look at the lower left quadrant. residential subdivision will probably go in there. we've got a reta business across the street. even though that's a distance of a couple hundred yards from the nearest house to that business, you know that person is going to drive because crossing that street is going to be a hassle, all right? they might be able to put in a good crosswalk with a signal but it is going to be unpleasant, and you're going to have to go to the crosswalks. there is not going to be a lot of crosswalks. if you want to go to the store a couple hundred yards the other
way, you're going to end up driving. so we don't have a level of service for travellers of all kinds. we have level of service for drivers. we're back to a world in which we don't really know what people prefer, because we're in a world built for one kind of traveller. all right? aashto also has this mechanism, since remember they don't have a marketplace. they very to have a lot of systems instead. one is level of service. another is called functional classification, where they classify roads. and local roads give you land access, that means you will have a lot of driveways. you're going to have a lot of the intersections. that is so you can get to individual stores and houses. at the top we have mobility, this is why on an interstate highway, for example, you don't have driveways. the intersections or exits are relatively rare. and in between we have the collectors. but i want you to consider something, the access is for
drivers, the mobility is for drivers. this doesn't have to be that way. consider what happens if you change access and mobility and very -- instead of saying it has to be cars, what if we say we could change modes? what if we said for high access let's favor high access modes, like local buses, bicycles and pedestrians. and if we want high mobility, why don't we favor those high mobility things instead? instead, even high access we define as high access for cars, right? and i think this will -- i can illustrate this nicely. if we look at mobility, is this mobility for the pedestrian having to cross in the middle of the street or for these pedestrians?
it's not mobility for them. mobility on this road is high if you're driving. this is austelle road in marietta, georgia. but if you're a pedestrian or a bus rider, you're in trouble. this is not an abstraction. raquel nelson in april the 10th, 2010, took the bus on austell road, got as close to her house as the bus stop would let her go. there -- the blue is the bus stop. she is with her three children coming home from the shopping mall. there is no crosswalk in sight. you can see where her home is, she is not going to walk with three children hundreds of yards either way. so instead, she crosses. her son, a.j., 4 years old carrying a plastic bag with a goldfish in it that he got at the store is struck and killed by a drink driver. all right? the drunk driver is arrested, but so is raquel nelson, the mother, for negligent homicide.
she actually ends up paying a $200 fine for jaywalking but she is paying $200 for an event that kills her son. all right? this is not mobility for her, but to aashto, it is. it is land access for cars, too i want you to -- i want to conclude with this analogy, remember aashto. american association of state highway and transportation officials? what if instead we had an organization account american association of state septic tank officials. look at what would happen if we did this to detroit. we would have orange multi-story septic structures. those are the towers. red surface septic fields. this map is real. i made up the bit about the septic, but look what it really is, parking garages and surface parking lots. we destroyed detroit!
we turned it over to cars. there may be poetic justice new that. they made the cars, too. but we see -- look, an everything that's orange or red is area committed to cars only. those are parking garages and surface lots. that is a weird thing to do to a city but it makes perfect sense if you live in a world in which driving is subsidized, right? so it's land access for cars and i think if we mean land access for cars most of the time they're not moving at all. blue means mobility, red means access, parking is like permanent access. so i think we need to redraw ashto's diagram like that. so i want to conclude by suggesting to you that we don't know what americans would prefer to do, especially in urban america given the choice. because they don't have the choice. we don't know what the free market would decide because we don't have a free market.
we actually don't even really know if this love affair thesis has any merit because the term did not exist until 1961. remember when it appeared on the screen? when the dupont show of the week had a show starring groucho marx present the history of the love automobile is the history of america's love affair with the automobile. dupont owned a 23% share in general motors at the time. and they created this story to help us believe this is what we prefer. and since then we have accepted the story because we forget the past. and you all know that those who can't remember the past are t t past. and you all know that those who can't remember the past arot th past. and you all know that those who can't remember the past are condemned to repeat it. so i urge you to remember the past. thank you. if there are any questions or whatever, feel free to chime in. but we only have another minute or two of class.
all right. well, thank you, you have been a patient audience. this week during american history tv primetime, we feature our lectures in history series taking you into college classrooms across the country. each night we debut a new lecture. tonight, a look at how the u.s. transportation system developed. we begin at 8:00 eastern with a development of parkways and freeways, from an iowa state university lecture. then from the university of virginia, a look at the impact of cars on u.s. cities. at 10:30 eastern, the development of the electric rail system, taken from a clemson university lecture. american history tv, primetime tonight.
this labor day weekend, american history tv on c-span3 has three days of featured programming. saturday night at 8:00 eastern, bakersfield college professor oliver rosales shares his personal family history and other oral histories about the national farm workers association. >> chavez was absolutely blowing this up. the movement of farm workers, the people at the bottom of society, right, were suddenly becoming engaged in fighting for their rights, wages, working conditions, but also mobilizing for politicians, right? we'll talk maybe a little bit about this later. i know some of you mentioned this in your oral history. one of the best friends of the chavez family is the kennedy family, starting with john and robert and their children. >> sunday evening at 6:00, on american artifacts, we'll visit the national security archive at george washington university with its director thomas blanton for the 50th anniversary of the
freedom of information act, signed into law by president johnson. >> john moss, the lonely crusader, he picked up this bright young illinois congressman as a co-sponsor, guy named donald rumsfeld. rumsfeld's statement on the floor of the house in 1966 is a pretty good explanation of why the bill then became a real majority bill. rumsfeld said government's gotten so big, it's involved in so many different pieces of our life and our commercial life, industrial life, personal lives, medicare has passed, social security, so forth, we need to the right to get those records out of agencies to be able to uphold our own standard of living, our own liberty, our own freedom and is a restraint on government. >> monday morning at 11:00 eastern, the national park service marking its 100th anniversary at arlington house, the robert e. lee memorial. we talked with former nps director robert stanton and brandon bias, former arlington house manager who will oversee a year long restoration of the mansion, slave quarters and grounds. >> we were incredibly fortunate
that we were able to really tailor our specific needs for all kinds of things for the museum objects for telling it the history, the sberp preytation and for the physical fixes and construction that needed to happen, not just to the buildings but to the historic grounds and gardens and we were able to present that to mr. rubenstein and he very generously donated to make that happen. >> for our complete american history tv schedule, go to c-span.org. this weekend, c-span's cities tour along with our comcast cable partners will explore the literary life and history of denver, colorado. on book tv, we visit the tattered cover bookstore, founded in 1971, it is considered the cornerstone of literary culture of denver. >> if you look at tattered cover, and you see in the store green carpets and sometimes brass fixtures and dark wood, the original barnes and noble superstars were modeled on this.
>> and then author juan thompson talks about living with his father, gonzo journalist hunter s. thompson and his book, "stories i tell myself." >> he was born in 1936, so when he's growing up, he didn't grow up in an era when fathers were, you know, typically heavily involved with raising the kids. so that was part of it. and second, writing was always -- that was most important thing. family was secondary for sure. >> also this weekend, as part of our c-span cities tour, some history of denver, colorado, on american history tv. sind did souders national fish and wildlife ranger on the rocky flatds nuclear site's transition to a national wildlife refuge. >> we do have elk that use this area, they use the drainages for calving. we also have mule deer, so there may be some mule deer fawns out here. coyotes are other common mammals.
occasionally there is a bear in this area. >> and then kimberly field, author of the book the denver mint 100 years of gangsters, gold and ghosts, talks about how the mint changed the city. >> by the 1880s, denver itself had gotten rich from mining. and it wanted to become the queen city of the plains, the center of commerce, the leader in the western united states. and the city fathers at that point decided that a mint, they could be proud of, was going to be part of that process. >> the c-span cities tour of denver, colorado, saturday at noon eastern on c-span2's book tv and sunday afternoon at 2:00 on american history tv on c-span3. working with our cable affiliates and visiting cities across the country. >> clemson university professor roger grant talks about the
history of american transportation and the rise of interurban electric rail at the end of the 19th century. interurbans were similar to rural trolleys and connected cities via small electric train cars. before the rise of the personal automobile, these local systems allowed people from rural areas to get to city centers in a cheap, reliable way. he talks about interurbans as precursors to the urban light rail of today. his class is about an hour and ten minutes. this morning we're going to begin a three-part study of electric interurbans. certainly one of the least studied aspects of american transportation history. the overall theme, and one that i want you to keep in mind is that we can make the argument that the electric interurban, or the rural trolley is that
linkage between steam railroad passenger service and the automobile. in fact, if the automobile had been invented perhaps 20, 25 years before, and if we had the triumph of the good roads movement about the same time, perhaps we would not have had the interurban era. also, we can make a case too that the interurban is the transition between steam railroad less than car load freight and express and the coming of the motor truck. and in the near future, in fact, on thursday, i want to talk about trolley or interurban freight. to begin, let's keep in mind that the american inner city road system was awful. we did talk about that turnpike
movement at the very end of the 18th century that continued into the early 20th century. we had that national road that was financed by the federal government in the 1940s and '50s. also, too, there were various local improvements, for example, the plank roads stand out as a good illustration. but it wouldn't be until the 1890s when there was this bicycle craze, the safety, bicycle is introduced in the latter part of the 1880s and communities were being pressured to have better roads. perhaps only going out into the suburbs. and we have places like cleveland and philadelphia that are installing brick roads. so there is a movement for an all-weather road system, or at
least in the limited sense, prior to the coming of the automobile, which really is about 1900 to 1905. most american roads at the beginning of the 20th century were mud holes during the wet season, and extremely dusty during the dry season. it was estimated that only about 5% of america's 2.2 million miles of roads were actually all weather. in other words, they were covered with broken stone, some type of gravel, even sand, or in florida, with sea shells. so to make a long story short, the road system was abysmal. and one good example comes from iowa.
as of 1905, only 2% of the state's network of more than 100,000 miles of roads were improved or all weather or semi all-weather. and here is a comment that was made at this time by a hawkeye state newspaper editor. this week a farmer walked four miles to town with a basket of produce. this week a farmer's wife came to town with her butter, and most everyone in town heard of it because it was the only country butter received here the past week. and the explanation quite simple, quote, verily, the bad roads have well nigh cut the country from the town and the town from the country. so this community, which is red oak, iowa, county seat town in the southwestern part of the state was a kind of island community.
if the roads were passable, yes, you would have delicious country butter or fresh poultry or eggs or some other commodity from rural lying areas. so with that in mind, i think it is quite obvious that we needed a better mouse trap. yes, during this time period which i called the twilight era of american steam railroads there were efforts to add additional miles of line. so there would be these branch lines and independent short lines that were built. but needless to say there were areas that simply needed something more than a branch line or short line passenger and freight train. so considering the condition of the roads, this is one reason